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Then, a gunman entered Borderline and started shooting with a Glock .45-caliber handgun. Bodies fell as the crowd busted through windows, slid behind tables, ran to hide in the attic. The tone in the group chat changed instantly. Eighty miles away in Orange County, Hoolihan wondered whether Orfanos, with whom he had survived one mass shooting, had made it through this one, too. Meek had not texted anything else. Neither had Orfanos. Hoolihan and Orfanos were strangers before the gunfire in Las Vegas, when all around them people were falling and fleeing and bleeding as bullets streamed toward the crowd through the darkness, a shooter positioned high above in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino across the street. They knew nothing about each other, only that while others were running away, they decided to stay.

By the end of the night, they had witnessed enough carnage to bond them for a lifetime, They exchanged numbers and last names, and for a year shepherded one another through their toughest days — at times overwhelming depression and intense post-traumatic stress, Nobody else seemed to understand them, They had spoken twice in October: On the anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting and a second time at the end of the month, when Hoolihan needed advice after “the worst date I’ve ever been on” — with the woman he is now seeing, Orfanos offered this: “Just tell essie ballet slippers review me when the wedding is.”..

Hoolihan had come to rely on Orfanos’ steadfast assurances in trying times. On Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, as he was facing another mass shooting among his peers and needed to hear his friend’s voice more than ever, Orfanos wasn’t picking up. In the group chat, information came in bursts: some friends had been spotted in the background of television live shots at the scene. Others had been interviewed about what had happened. When the shooting started at Borderline, his friends had heard that Orfanos was trying to help others, just as he had done in Las Vegas. Hoolihan braced himself for the worst but hoped for the best: Amid the mayhem, somebody had spotted his friend outside the bar – alive.

When the gunfire started in Las Vegas, Orfanos and Hoolihan helped topple a barricade so concertgoers could run into a parking lot, Then they crawled between cars, looking for people to help, It was there, at eye level with tires, that they quickly introduced themselves, They worked the field for hours, loading the injured into the back seats of Uber cars and using their collective trauma training to stop the victims’ bleeding and pack their wounds, Orfanos, a Navy veteran, used his flannel to make a essie ballet slippers review tourniquet, Hoolihan, in school and training to be a police officer, packed his shirt into an off-duty officer’s gaping wound, Both had to cover corpses..

Seeing something like that “takes a toll on your soul,” Hoolihan said. Officials eventually urged the men to leave the sprawling crime scene, so they moved on to the Tropicana resort where, both shirtless, they walked over tile floors slick with blood searching for victims hiding in alcoves. Hoolihan began to sob. Orfanos wrapped him in a bear hug. “It was a ‘we’re in it together’ type of thing,” Hoolihan said. They finally stopped about dawn, exchanged phone numbers and took a photo with a third man, a Las Vegas bartender they had met overnight. Covered in blood, they held flag-patterned fabric and smiled.

“That’s kind of where that bond grew,” Hoolihan said, “Even though I don’t know this person personally essie ballet slippers review yet, that’s your partner.”, They went their separate ways, The Wednesday after Route 91, survivors from Ventura County, California, gathered at the one place that felt safe, that felt like home – Borderline Bar and Grill, Six months later, Orfanos invited Hoolihan to join his Borderline friends at the Stagecoach country concert in southern California, It was the first and only time they met up after Las Vegas..

Hoolihan quickly was adopted into the greater “Borderline family,” even though he had never visited the beloved bar. Orfanos invited Hoolihan to the 30-person Snapchat group message, a place to plan lodging and logistics — and keep track of one another. Even as they built friendships and enjoyed the country music that gave them roots, reminders of Las Vegas were everywhere. Near the Ferris wheel, the Route 91 survivors gathered to take a group photo. With some close friends, Orfanos cried. He always carried Vegas with him, and when the emotions bubbled up, Orfanos’ viewpoint remained steady: “I’m glad I’m here, I’m glad you’re here, and I wish there was more we could have done.”.

When he wore his Route 91 T-shirt in public, other survivors would come up to shake his hand, In return, he would invite them to Borderline, “He made them feel so welcome they kept coming back,” said Taylor Allen, 25, a Borderline regular who became close with Orfanos and Hoolihan at the Stagecoach concert, Of everyone who worked and partied at Borderline, Orfanos “made himself the most known,” said Kaitlyn Maki, 22, who was on the dance floor Wednesday when the shooting began, To anyone who needed it, he made himself available as a counselor, hype-man essie ballet slippers review and drinking buddy, Gregarious and charming, he had a risque sense of humor and an affinity for women..